Years ago I sighed suddenly.
A quick, unexpected breath that snagged in my throat
like a small bird tangled in a net.
It kept happening after that.
Occasionally, and out of nowhere.
The sighs audible, gasping; a short stuttering note of surprise.

I have searched for a reason
this should happen.  Wondering
what I had done to annoy
my own breath that it would sound
so exasperated with me?
I recently discovered that I hold my breath

when I am concentrating
on some inconsequential task.
While someone is drawing their last
breath I unconsciously hold mine.
A child is born and gulps a first breath
then wails from the surprise of it.

Isn’t that the way breath
is meant to be?
Rolling in and out endlessly
like ocean waves taking us ever further out
until at last, we lose sight
of the distant shore.

13 thoughts on “Breath

  1. I love this so much.
    Since Mish introduced me to yoga, I noticed how much I hold my breath, too. Even during happy times. Your beautiful words about breathing marry perfectly to the ocean you describe and photographed.
    Exactly what I needed today, Mary. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WOW so beautiful, so many mental images described briefly and yet with great detail. A sigh, a simple subconscious act we do, has so much meaning now! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Or the shore we carry with us, sails catching a sun as articulate as that of star and seed under the power some everlasting spring burgeoning with the illimitable substance with which it creeps fathoms draw all sorrow and relief some sweet alchemy of growth and decay knows by the crucible of star and tide and soul.

    My way of saying nice job.

    further should be “farther”


  4. Gorgeous and profound (as always), Mary. I don’t know if it’s autobiographical, but I certainly felt it and feel like it’s something I’ve experienced, too (at least the sighing; my husband mentions it to me pretty often, and I don’t even know I’m doing it at least half the time). In any case, I hope you are faring well. If I may say so, this poem made me wonder whether you’d like to submit a story to a challenge (“Siren Songs”) I ran across just today. It’s due by May 5, though; flash fiction only. Good luck if you do! {} Peace to you & yours, Mary.


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